Getty among beneficiaries of massive Roy Lichtenstein Foundation gift

A view of the Getty Center in Brentwood.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

A trove of 200,000 photographic items from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is being donated to five institutions around the world, including the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

The collection of photographic material was shot by the late Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, and dates from approximately 1958 to 1973. The two other recipients of the donation are the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate in Britain. The Shunk-Kender trove depicts notable artists and other cultural types in the act of creation. Subjects include Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Alexander Calder.

Among the five recipients, the Getty is receiving the largest share of the donation at 183,000 individual items, including a near-complete set of 19,000 prints. The J. Paul Getty Trust will also manage the photographers’ copyright, which had previously belonged to the Lichtenstein Foundation.

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The other four institutions will also handle requests and permissions for academic uses of their holdings.


[Updated:] The Getty will receive the material in two shipments in the new year, according to Glenn Phillips, who heads the GRI’s department of architecture and contemporary art. The first shipment, consisting of vintage prints, will arrive in the next couple of months, while the second shipment, of negatives and contact sheets, is expected to arrive by June 30.

Items in the GRI special collections are available to scholars and other visitors for research purposes.

The Lichtenstein Foundation said the five institutions receiving the gift are forming a consortium that will allow each museum access to the others’ share of the trove.

Following the death of Shunk in 2006, the foundation stepped in and acquired the photographic material between 2008 and 2012.

The Centre Pompidou will receive approximately 10,000 prints. The National Gallery of Art will receive a set of approximately 2,300 prints of all the Christo photographs in the collection.


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